Ukraine is pursuing war-crimes charges against leaders of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and other major Western banks over their purported indirect financing of the Russian state, said Oleg Ustenko, an economic advisor to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“There is no doubt that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, against Ukrainians,” Oleg Ustenko said in an interview with CNBC on July 26, 2022. “In our logic, everybody who is financing these war criminals who are doing these terrible things in Ukraine are also committing war crimes.”
Ukraine intends to pursue not the companies, but the managers of these companies. Ustenko said Ukraine’s justice and security services were gathering information about the banks’ activities that would be passed to the International Criminal Court.
Earlier in July, Ustenko wrote letters to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and the bosses of Citigroup and HSBC asking them to cut ties with companies that trade Russian oil and sell shares in Russian oil and gas firms such as Gazprom and Rosneft, according to the Financial Times.
JPMorgan provides credit to Vitol, which trades Russian oil, and the bank’s Russian securities investment trust holds shares in Rosneft, Sberbank, and Gazprom, Ustenko said in his letter to Dimon, per the Financial Times. HSBC’s asset-management arm also has stakes in Gazprom and Rosneft, and Citigroup extends credit to Vitol and the Russian energy giant Lukoil, the letters said, per the Financial Times.
Ukraine’s pursuit of war crimes charges against leaders of major Western banks ups the risk for all companies continuing business in or with Russia and brings home a fundamental truth: companies who continue to work with Russia could be implicated in its atrocities.
That’s why the Business for Ukraine (B4Ukraine) coalition is calling on companies to publicly commit to cut ties with Russia and stand by their commitments until the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders is restored and accountability is imposed for war crimes and the destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and property.
Without clear statements of intent like this, companies will continue to come under the spotlight.